Apocalypse 12:9 "And that great dragon was cast out, that
old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan,
who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his
angels were thrown down with him."
After dark in
early May, during the month dedicated to Our Lady, we can see Scorpius
creeping up over the Eastern horizon. Scorpius is distinct in it shape
and because of its intense blood-red heart, a star red like the color
of Mars -- a fact which gives the star its name, "Antares," meaning
"Rival of Ares" (Ares being the Greek name for Mars, the god of war.)
symbolizes the obvious -- Satan --
name of its heart not only indicates how similar it is in appearance to
the planet Mars, but the war-like nature that these stars symbolize.
As can be guessed from Scripture, Scorpius chases after Virgo,
following her Westward across the sky:
And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this
thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon
thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy
life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and
her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her
Apocalypse 12:1-6, 17
And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and
the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And
being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be
delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a
great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head
seven diadems: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven,
and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who
was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might
devour her son.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an
iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared
by God, that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty
...And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war
with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have
the testimony of Jesus Christ.
-- But there is
a constellation between them, protecting her: Libra,
the symbol of Christ's Offering of Himself to the Father -- the
Sacrifice that is the source of grace of the one we address as "Full of
Grace." Be mindful, too, that the Blessed Virgin is not only the Mother
of Jesus, but the Mother of the Church. She is our Mother, and a symbol
of the Church. Not just she, but we, too, are, through the Cross,
protected from the Evil One, as depicted by Scorpius.
Decan One: Serpens
In the first decan is the
constellation Serpens -- the Serpent -- that is firmly grasped in the
hands of the Scorpius's second decan constellation, Ophiucus, the
Serpent-Holder. What a
perfect sign of the victory of the Cross foreshadowed by the brazen
serpent lifted up by Moses, who himself foreshadowed Christ:
And they marched from mount Hor, by the way that leadeth to the Red
Sea, to compass the land of Edom. And the people began to be weary of
their journey and labour: And speaking against God and Moses, they
said: Why didst thou bring us out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness?
There is no bread, nor have we any waters: our soul now loatheth this
very light food.
Wherefore the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents, which bit them
and killed many of them.
Upon which they came to Moses, and said: We have sinned, because we
have spoken against the Lord and thee: pray that he may take away these
serpents from us.
And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to him: Make a
brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall
look on it, shall live. Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set
it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of
man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but
may have life everlasting.
[As a total aside, one of the most beautiful deep sky objects
is found in Serpens: the poetically named "Pillars of Creation," part
of the Eagle Nebula. Read a bit about that here.]
Decan Two: Ophiucus
Ophiucus holds Serpens such that the snake is divided in half, rendered
harmless. Interestingly, the Greek poet, Aratus (d. 240 B.C.) describes
Ophiucus as trampling Scorpius with his feet, a fascinating truth given
the words of Genesis 3:15:
I will put
enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she
shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
Concerning the phrase "she shall crush," the notes to the
Douay-Rheims says, "Ipsa, the woman; so divers of the fathers read this
place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz., the seed.
The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the
woman crushes the serpent's head."
Decan Three: Hercules
is the constellation Hercules, the mighty one who
traipses across the night sky from April to October -- and steps with
his left leg on the head of Draco, the Dragon, on his route (Draco will
always be seen in the northern skies throughout the year). What a fine
symbol of the victory of the Cross as manifest in St. John's vision of St. Michael
and the powers he's been given to fight the dragon. It's
especially interesting when you consider that St. Michael is so often
depicted as holding scales with which to weigh souls, reminiscent of
the Sign of Libra.
And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought
with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels: And they
prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And
that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the
devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the
earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
in early May, but is best seen in June and, especially, July, just over
the southern horizon.
relative to other stars in the Summer sky: